J. Kent Barnhart gives drummer Ken Remmert and bass player Steve Lenhert a "Five, six, seven, eight," and the performers start shaking their hips and pouring out such syncopated wordplay as "Pennsylvania 6-5000" and the Andrews Sisters' "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." There is some Gershwin, some Porter and, to give the title its requisite zing, Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)."
In casting the show, Barnhart has supplied the various personalities that would have made a U.S.O. performance something for everyone. James Wright and Melinda MacDonald are like a married couple who hosted variety shows on the radio before moving (perhaps indelicately) to television. In their duet, "Let's Get Away From It All," they disagree about their chosen destinations, but the barbs are only for laughs; you know they'll go wherever she says they'll go.
The troops would have had their sexy blonde in Alison Sneegas Borberg. With her hair falling slightly in her face like Veronica Lake's, she gives "Takin' a Chance on Love" just enough ambiguity to have made every G.I. throb with hope. And Karen Errington is a prettier version of a Martha Raye or Fanny Brice. She's got a mouth on her and the pipes to back it up, especially on Rodgers and Hart's "Johnny One Note." Her range gives the foursome the necessary tenor to tackle such Manhattan Transfer hits as "Java Jive."
Remmert and Lenhert deserve a bandstand in the kind of swanky nightclub that used to dot Kansas City's 12th Street strip. And when Randy Emery makes a swift light change for MacDonald's take on the old Julie Wilson standard "Most Gentleman Don't Live Love," he turns the room into something like New York's Cafe Carlyle, whetting the appetite for a dirty martini, straight up.